Former Hewlett Packard Enterprise Director of Storage Channel Sales North America Sal Maita, a 10-year HPE channel sales veteran, has started a consulting business aimed at helping partners and vendors make the transition to a services-led sales model.
Maita, who has overseen both vendor and solution provider sales teams over the course of 32 years in the tech business, announced his new company, Buttonwood 5 LLC, named for the home where he and his wife raised five children.
Maita, who left HPE in June in the midst of organizational changes, is already helping numerous partners and vendors aggressively shift to a services-led sales model.
“We are helping partners and vendors transform themselves to drive more as a service conversations with customers,” said Maita, who has built and nurtured relationships with a long list of customers and partners over three decades in the business. “That’s where the market is going. I saw a niche in the market where partners need help executing and technology vendors need help getting to the partner sales reps that can make this happen.”
The majority of midmarket enterprise infrastructure focused partners still need to make the transition to an as a service model, said Maita. “Partners need to make sure they have the entire organization focused on this,” he said. “This is not a side job. It’s hard. It’s like trying to change the tires on a racing car while it is still on the race track. Partners need to continue to keep the business moving, fulfilling their client’s immediate needs, but they have also got to direct their own teams and customers to move to this new environment.”
Maita said he has been immersed deeply in the challenges partners face in the sales trenches throughout his entire career. “I understand what the partner challenges are and what they need to continue to provide value to their customers,” he said.
Besides his vendor sales experience, Maita spent 17 years overseeing the dot.com meltdown transformation of solution provider MTI Technology, Tustin, Calif. from a storage controller manufacturer to one of EMC’s largest partners. “What that taught me is how to help sales teams and clients through a massive transition,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m doing now at Buttonwood 5.”
The partners that have been hit hardest in the COVID-19 pandemic are those that are focused on small and medium-sized businesses and those that had not invested heavily in managed services, said Maita.
The call to action for partners is now is the time to aggressively move to an as a services-led model, said Maita.
“Now’s the time to transition your business, getting yourself ready for now and the future,” he said. “Your whole team is a captive audience right now. You can help them develop the right message, deliver the right solution and you can put them in a position to be successful. Partners want to be stronger at the end of this COVID 19 cycle than they were going in. The way to do that is to hone the message by adding more value for clients through products and services and a renewed focus.”
Maita has been overwhelmed by the response he has gotten from both partners and vendor colleagues. “It’s been gratifying to hear from partners and colleagues from my past who have been cheering me on,” he said.”That was really exciting for me.”
Maita is already working with both partners including Comport Consulting, an HPE Platinum partner headquartered in Ramsey, N.J. and vendors like WekaIO, a Campbell, Calif., maker of a next generation storage I.O. system and a financial services leasing company helping partners move to a IT as a service consumption based model.
Comport Consulting is working with Maita on how to best execute in the current market environment, said Comport President Mike Vencel.
“My relationship with Sal goes back many years working with him when he was a sales director in Metro New York for HPE,” said Vencel. “Sal has a really great understanding of the psychology of sales and the process. We as partners are all in this really disruptive time in this business. We are all taking stock of our strategies, go to market plans and our relationships with OEMs. Sal is providing great strategic input on that planning process. He brings a great understanding of both the sales and go to market of the business as well as a unique understanding of the channel partners. That combination is going to serve him well as he helps partners execute.”
There is a great need for Maita’s channel and sales expertise in the midst of the fast changing technology landscape especially set against the backdrop of the global COVID 19 pandemic, said Vencel.
“A lot of channel executives are getting overwhelmed with the amount of change we are seeing with the number of OEMs and technology partners and strategies,” he said.”It’s a lot to sort through. It’s great to work with someone like Sal because he also ran a sales organization for a channel partner. So he has walked in our shoes before.”
The naming of the company is a nod in some respects to Maita’s five children (Gianna,27; Anthony,26; Isabella, 25; Sophia, 22; and Leo, 20), who have completed college or nearing graduation, said Maita.
“I wanted to do this for a long time but making sure the kids got through college was the priority,” he said. “With that taken care of I’ve been able to scratch that entrepreneurial itch.”
Even with all the turmoil in the current market, Maita said, there has never been a better time to be a channel partner. “A lot of organizations have had to let people go, but those organizations all have got to continue to run the business, but they’ve got to do it with less and the best place for them to be able to do more with less is to leverage the expertise of VARs and service providers,” he said. “That is why there is an excellent opportunity right now for the partner community.”